Lions are without a doubt one of the, if not the, most iconic of all African animals. These great cats convey power and elegance and are the perfect killing machine.
Their main two weapons, teeth and claws, combined with their incredible strength is what makes them such lethal killing machines. Now as I was looking through some of my lion images from the last few days I noticed the differences in the teeth of the various lions we saw on the drives from Tuningi.
This led to a comparison of the three different male coalitions we saw in Madikwe the last week. If you have been reading the Blog you will have noticed we refer to the lions by name. This helps in keeping track of their territories, mating habits and other behavior.
So from the images I got this week I thought I would do a quick introduction and comparison between a few of these coalitions.
The Batia Brothers
Absolute legends in Madikwe. They were the frist two lions ever introduced into the reserve. They arrived from Batia Pan in Etosha when they were only two and a half years old and have been ruling Madikwe for the last 13 years. Things have gotten a little more difficult for the old boys but they are still going strong!
This is how we saw one of the Two Batias the other morning - gliding through the grass on a cold winters morning. For the last few weeks they have been battling it out for territory with the Thola-Mateya coalition. (Read Grant's Blog - New Boys in the Hood). So far they seem to have been holding their own and this specific morning you could see the boys were not happy! They were marking everywhere and roaring all the time.
You can see the boys are a little older but still damn good looking lions!
This is the reason a few of the guys refer to these lions as 'the toothless wonders'. They have broken canines and have lost a good deal of their other teeth as well. It is amazing how these 15 year old lions still enforce themselves on the western parts of Madikwe. They are getting older and it is going to be a very sad day when they pass away bu their legacy will live on in the fact that they have fathered almost all the lions in Madikwe.
Ditaba & Sepedi
These are the Batia's oldest sons and the current ruling force in Madikwe. They have taken over where their dads left off and are now 'managing' the eastern half of the reserve. They are, like their fathers were, huge lions and currently around 8 years old. We don't get to see them all that often anymore as they have moved to the east but every now and then they patrol into the western parts of the reserve. Saw them three days ago. Awesome!!
We found them late in the afternoon and returned just after dark. You can even see from the images that these are VERY large lions!
Now have a close look at their teeth. They still have all their canines, but have both lost some of their small teeth as well. Sepedi a few at the bottom (small crack on canine as well!) and Ditaba on the top.
This guys will more than likely be the dominating force in Madikwe for quite some time to come.
Their are however some new contenders to the throne and we have been seeing a lot of these boys recently.
The Sereti Males
This coalition of three young males are going to be phenomenal to watch! They are only three years old but are very large for their size. We have seen them mark territory and even mate with the Etali female, something which is normally only the privilege of dominant males who owns a territory. She seems to have thought ahead and is backing the future kings even before they have reached their peak. Good thinking!!
They are probably some of the most beautiful lions I have ever seen and have the most intense orange eyes. Awesome animals to photograph and I am sure you will see more of these guys on the Blog in future.
For now I leave you with another image of one of the Sereti males. I reckon these guys are going to be one of the main contenders for the Kings of Madikwe!
Until next time.